Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lynn Calls This Book "one of the finest examples of why I am a bookseller."

In 1976 Buenos Aires, a ten-year-old boy lives in a world of school lessons and comic books, TV shows and games of Risk—a world in which men have superpowers and boys can conquer the globe on a rectangle of cardboard. But in his hometown, the military has just seized power, and amid a climate of increasing terror and intimidation, people begin to disappear without a trace.

When his mother unexpectedly pulls him and his younger brother from school, she tells him they’re going on an impromptu family trip. But he soon realizes that this will be no ordinary holiday: his parents are known supporters of the opposition, and they are going into hiding. Holed up in a safe house in the remote hills outside the city, the family assumes new identities. The boy names himself Harry after his hero Houdini, and as tensions rise and the uncertain world around him descends into chaos, he spends his days of exile learning the secrets of escape.

Kamchatka is the portrait of a child forced to square fantasy with a reality in which family, politics, history, and even time itself have become more improbable than any fiction. Told from the points of view of Harry as a grown man and as a boy, Kamchatka is an unforgettable story of courage and sacrifice, the tricks of time and memory, and the fragile yet resilient fabric of childhood.

Lynn's review:
"It was evident within the first of its many 3-4 page chapters that I knew I was holding in my hands one of the finest examples of why I am a bookseller.  Kamchatka is a novel of time-traveling dimensions that recall Billy Pilgrim's wanderings in Vonnegut's imagination and the historical surrealism of Garcia-Marquez.

Its title derives from the fictitious nation of Kamchatka in the precocious 10 year old narrator's favorite boardgame, 'Risk'.  It comes to represent both a sanctuary from and a developing cosmology that absorbs and ponders the political realities in the adult world of the novel's setting in 1976 Buenos Aires.

The boy's family goes into hiding not long after General Jorge Videla's violent military coup on 3/24/76 and several people within their circle are 'disappeared'.  The family all take on new identities enabling them to eke out a precarious existence for awhile, as Harry (the boy's new alias, taken from his hero Harry Houdini, who coincidentally was born on March 24th) comes to grips with his life in Argentina, distilling what precious gifts his parents can impart to him and his brother (always referred to as 'the Midget') in a dangerous environment that rivals and surpasses his favorite TV show, the Invaders.

All I can say is that my radar is permanently tuned in now to be on the lookout for more by Marcelo Figueras!"


Cruises Perth said...

A great example of the unassuming strength of a child's mind in the face of adversity.

Miss Ash Tuesday said...

I'm totally sold. I've put this on my TBR list.